SICKNESS rates of council workers helping vulnerable people in Worcestershire average two weeks off every year, according to shock new data.

Your Worcester News can reveal how front-line staff working at Worcestershire County Council's adult social care department take 9.8 days off with illness.

It compares to an average of seven days off sick for back office county council workers, and less than five in the private sector.

The elected politician in charge of adult care has admitted staff are "under great pressure" but has vowed to try and bring it down.

The front-line workers deal with 6,000 vulnerable adults across the county, including elderly people and those with disabilities.

Figures show how sickness rates averaged 10.1 days in 2012/13, and it fell very slightly to 9.8 in 2013/14.

Conservative Councillor Sheila Blagg, the cabinet member for adult social care, said: "The field workers are the ones who have the highest sickness rates and they do feel pressurised.

"The pressure they face is always going to be different to those who do form filling.

"I've seen situations personally where (vulnerable) people don't like change, they end up linking to a particular member staff and like that person so much, that they become almost like a friend with that person.

"That in itself puts real pressure on the staff, but it's unavoidable because it's part of the job."

She also said the council's leadership also puts pressure on them to get results.

"We are all guilty of putting pressure on to them, but again it can often be unavoidable if we want to get to the bottom of something or help change things," she said.

She said "there will always be a discrepancy" between field workers and those in office-based roles at the council.

Her comments were made during a full council meeting in response to questioning from Labour Councillor Graham Vickery, who asked her "what are you going to do" to reduce it.

Cllr Blagg said they will "never get to the stage" where adult social care field workers take the same sick days as other staff.